Get your seat at the table

CEO Phyllis Newhouse and Launchpad2X founder Bernie Dixon got together to share advice about the challenges women entrepreneurs face.

Dynamic entrepreneur and motivational speaker Phyllis Newhouse, CEO of Xtreme Solutions, Inc. is the 2018 winner of the Launchpad2X Flame Award, presented to her Friday at UPS World Headquarters in Atlanta. The LP2X Flame Award honors an individual who is a trailblazer in women’s entrepreneurship. Xtreme Solutions has been named among the Top 50 Fastest Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies by the Women Presidents’ Organization for six consecutive years, and in 2017, EY named Phyllis Entrepreneur of the Year. She travels the country sharing her take-no-prisoners positive leadership strategies with other women. Phyllis and Launchpad2X founder Bernie Dixon shared the stage for a motivational talk that had the crowd lining up afterward for a moment with these inspiring leaders.


Both Bernie and Phyllis are military veterans who went on to have successful careers in the corporate world; and today, both oversee organizations dedicated to helping other women succeed. They held a fireside-style chat and talked about their experiences in those roles and shared their advice for success. Here are some of the takeaways—many of which show how skills from military duty translate to entrepreneurship and business:

1. Find allies who support your role and know your potential.

Both Bernie Dixon and Phyllis Newhouse agree: Getting your seat at the table is necessary if you’re going to lead and succeed, and you shouldn’t be timid about it.


Bernie recounted a story when, as a military officer, she was leading a meeting. When she walked in the room, there were seats at the table for all the attendees, but not for her. A general gave his seat up for her, and requested that the hosts get him another chair.


BD: If he had not given up his seat for me, I would not have been seen as the leader, Find allies who support your role and know your potential.


Phyllis shared an experience at an awards event, approaching a table of strangers. As an award recipient, she claimed the table and acted as if she owned it and played the role of gatekeeper as people came to sit.


PN: Own the table. You deserve to be there.


2. Always praise your team when pitching a client.

Building confidence with a prospective client and landing their business isn’t easy, especially if there is some institutional bias against women led businesses in certain industries. Phyllis advises to show everything you and your company have to offer the prospect.


PN: I always praise the team. This shows your company has the talent and resources to get the job done.


3. Scale your business through sales and strategic partnerships.

Even though women in 2018 own 40 percent of all firms in the U.S., women-owned businesses earn only 4.3% of revenues annually. 88 percent of women owned businesses earn $100,000 or less per year. Phyllis Newhouse suggests building strategic partnerships to scale your business.


PN: Build strategic partnerships to scale your business. I look for a complimentary business that’s bigger, and write contract proposals together.


BD: Many small business owners think they need an infusion of cash, when strong sales will drive growth. Strategic partnerships, sales, and a strong network will help you scale.


4. There is no such thing as failure.

BD: In the military, you don’t have the option to fail. You don’t have a choice not to deliver supplies to a war front, or provide tactical information.

PN: Failure? I don’t have that in my vocabulary. There are learning opportunities. But there is no failure.


5. Decide you’re going to beat the blues.

Being an entrepreneur has its ups and downs—and is known to take a mental toll on founders. Both women shared their own approaches for getting through tough times.

PN: Wake up every day loving what you do and having energy for what you do. You’re the energy drive for the people around you.

BD: Focus on others instead of yourself. Think about the people who are counting on you and do it for them.


6. You are also a trailblazer for other women and young girls.

Phyllis encourages female business owners to be mindful of the little girls who dream of becoming bosses and business owners—and to show them, by example and through practical encouragement—that they can realize their dreams.

PN: We have a responsibility to the young women. They are watching, even when you don’t realize it.


7. Surround yourself with a supportive community.

Growing a business is a thrill, but it’s also hard. With support from mentors, government resources, networks of fellow female founders, and organizations dedicated to supporting women entrepreneurs, starting and growing a business is a little easier.

Women who have made firsts and were early trailblazers—like Bernie Dixon and Phyllis Newhouse—are creating ways to help other women succeed, too. Launchpad2X grew out of Bernie’s recognition that women need better access to investors and capital. Phyllis Newhouse recently partnered with actress Viola Davis to create Shoulder Up, a movement dedicated to supporting women on their journeys to success.




Pour some rocketfuel on your business and career. Join Launchpad2X: We offer an annual membership that gives you access to monthly Masters’ Workshops, special events, an exclusive curriculum, office hours, mentorship, a powerful network of women founders and CEOs, sponsors, and more.

Launchpad2X is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

© 2020 Launchpad2X

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